I am Heart Fit

I am Aerobic Fit

I am HFit / AFit

These two simple self-directed assessments help you determine your cardiovascular fitness

Meet the Criteria on one or both assessments and Get Awarded (see sticker)

I am Heart Fit (HFit) is a good goal for every one. I am Aerobic Fit (AFit) is a good goal for those who exercise rigorously regularly. You can not consider yourself Aerobic Fit without being Heart Fit.

Do not start this or any fitness program without agreeing to the waiver and being cleared to exercise by going over a PAR Q.  If you answer YES to any PAR Q questions, talk to your doctor first before starting this or any exercise program.



I am HFit Program

4 Parts

1. Do you have blood pressure of 120/80 systolic/diastolic or below (even through medication)? Learn more about blood pressure here.

2. Do you have resting heart rate of <65 (first thing in morning) ? Typically the lower the resting heart rate the fitter you are.

3. Easy Aerobic Tests:

Walking a mile in 14-15 minutes (3.7 - 4 mph): Walking a mile in this time range indicates a fair level of aerobic ability. It's a simple and widely used measure.

Climbing four flights of stairs fast (40-48 steps): If you can climb this number of stairs without getting completely out of breath and without having to stop, it suggests a fair level of aerobic ability. Stair climbing is a good indicator of cardiovascular fitness.

Performing >64 up and down steps in total in 2 minutes: This is another measure of stair climbing endurance. Use the first step of a flight of stairs or an eight inch step. If you can achieve this in 2 minutes, it also suggests a fair level of aerobic ability. It adds a time element to the stair climbing test.

4. Do you have fast recovery heart rate after exercise that makes you out of breath? Does your heart rate drop at least 12 beats per minute after peak exercise (exercise that makes you out of breath) within the first 1 minute? Does your heart rate drop at least 22 beats per minute after peak exercise (exercise that makes you out of breath) within the first 2 minutes? The faster your heart and breathing recovers after exertion the more fit you are (learn more here).

See HFit check-list (see tests).

I am AFit Program

Complete and pass the HFit Program above and score above average on one of the I am AFit aerobic tests (see tests). We can guide you to what is best for you and how.


How to Improve your Heart Health!

We can tailor a program for you. Email us to find out how to get started (fittec@me.com).

Please see our Nutrition Page for Heart Healthy Diets like the Dash and the Mediterranean Diets.

Please see our Aerobic Program Page for more details on how to improve Aerobic Ability.


How to Improve Heart Health

Its simple to Understand, but it takes effort to implement.

• Eat Healthy Diet - Mediterranen or Dash (see article)

• Keep Sugar and Saturated/Trans Fats Extremely Low

• Get Quality Sleep

• Keep your weight down

• Keep your belly flat

• Do not Smoke

• Limit Alcohol and Caffeine

• Take Care of your Teeth

• Try to Reduce Stress - Practice Relaxation Techniques

• Know Your Numbers - HDL, Chol, Trigs, LDL, A1C

• Know Other Numbers - Blood Pressure and Heart Rate

• Know your Family History

• Increase Activities of Daily Living - move and stand more - helps keep weight down

• Perform Aerobic Exercise. Aerobic exercise improves circulation, which results in lowered blood pressure and heart rate and improves cardiac output (how well your heart pumps). There are other great reasons to get your heart pumping: it can lower your LDL cholesterol, risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and improve your overall health.

Did You Know that Better Cardio Fitness Predicts a Longer Life

Aerobic fitness is your ability to do aerobic work. It is your exercise capacity.

Having good cardiovascular fitness has many health benefits as mentioned, but did you know that there's no such thing as too much aerobic fitness, according to a large new study, which found no upper limit to the benefits of aerobic fitness in terms of reducing risk of death (see study). Women with a greater exercise capacity on a heart stress test had a lower risk of dying from heart disease and other conditions. The study found poor exercisers were twice as likely to die from cancer and more than four times as likely to die from other causes, compared to women on a higher fitness level.

Women with good exercise capacity were able to exercise at an intensity of 8-10 metabolic equivalents (METs) or better during a stress test. Anything over 6 METs is considered vigorous exercise for most. Running a 12 to 10-minute mile is about 8-10 METs or 5 to 6 mph. Mountain biking uphill is 14 METs (see charts here). Most exercise machines have a MET indicator. One of our exercise test that we recommend is one where you determine your Peak Mets (See Test 3. Peak METS). The higher your Peak METS that you can achieve and sustain for three or more minutes the better. You should strive for an aerobic fitness level where you are able to reach or exceed 5 METS (see study) for 3 or more minutes when being tested. That is a walking speed of 3.7 to 4 mph.

So how can you improve your cardiovascular fitness?

Well of course exercise. Moderate exercise (like walking casually) delivers some enhancements such as reducing stress and chronic inflammation and aids in keeping weight off. But to improve your aerobic fitness substantially you need to increase the intensity above what you are use to and make it more vigorous (breathing and speaking changes). That is where you pick up the pace and walk briskly if you are walking moderately for exercise or speed it up at points if you are running, biking, or doing other activities.

In general when doing aerobic exercise it is usually considered best to do a combination of exercise intensities; some lower and longer, with some higher and shorter. This is known formally as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Formal HIIT is where you have defined periods of higher intensity activity with periods of moderate activity through intervals. We typically recommend intervals of 30 to 60+ seconds of high intensity with 30 to 60+ seconds of moderate activity over 3 more intervals (see more here on current recommendations and HIIT). HIIT does not need to be formal. It can be a simple as picking up the pace at points.

It is important to understand that Moderate and Vigorous Activities are all relative. What might be moderate for one person might be vigorous to another.

Example: A fit person may find walking 2.8 mph very light while someone who is unfit might find it vigorous.

Generally moderate activity is where you can still talk and breathe normally, while vigorous is where it starts to be somewhat difficult to talk and breathing is noticeable (VT1 ventilatory threshold-see chart-beginning of the HIIT Zone).

Try to do a combination of moderate and vigorous exercise by finding the activities that suits you and progress at your pace. There are great benefits from a little bit of exercise, even if it doesn’t increase your fitness to a high degree.

We recommend talking to your doctor before starting a vigorous exercise program and listen to your body and stop if something doesn’t feel right.

What is the best form of Vigorous Exercise? I say it is whatever exercise that you can stick with, that does not cause pain or injury, that makes you out of breath at times. That being said it is a hotly debated question in my industry. Find what works best for you. Climbing stairs and jumping rope is easy to implement for some, while walking up hills fast is one that walkers sometimes do. Here is a good article describing the differences.

I would suggest trying to get 5 to 30 minutes a day (75 to no more than150 minutes per week) of vigorous exercise. I would not do it more than 5 days per week. Moderate exercise can be done almost every day (brisk walking). You should shrive for a least 10 to hopefully 30+ minutes a day (a good goal is 150+ minutes per week)


Besides doing more Vigorous Cardio you should also do some muscle building exercises.

Weight and Strength Training (aka resistance training) makes you look more fit, but more importantly it builds muscle, maintains bone mass and prevent falls and injury. Exciting recent research found resistance training reduces your risk of diabetes, stroke and heart disease. Multiple studies have found an inverse relationship between strength training and heart disease. Resistance training subjects had a 30 percent lower chance of being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes than those who did not. Women who performed any amount of resistance training reduced their risk of cardiovascular disease (including heart attack, stroke, coronary artery bypass graft surgery, an angioplasty or death from cardiovascular disease) by 17 percent. Another study found a 32 percent reduction in pericardial adipose tissue from resistance training  (this type of fat is right in the heart sac is most likely to increase your risk of heart disease and stroke), while the aerobic exercise group saw no change in that tissue (see more here). The exact cardiovascular mechanism by which weight training helps prevent diabetes is not known, but it could be from the increased muscle mass helping you process blood sugar, decreasing your risk of Type 2 diabetes and the issues that come from it, including heart attack and stroke. It could come from a decrease in belly fat. A University of Alabama study found women who did weights lost more belly fat than those who just did cardio. Remember, belly fat is one of the biggest risk factores for metabolic syndrome. There are many ways to train. I often suggest the simple and foundation programs highlighted on our muscular page. A basic program should work all the major body parts through several exercises where the muscle is trained to momentary failure (usually 10-15 reps).

Want more Details - Read on

Do you have a good resting cardiovascular state?

Low Resting Heart Rate and Blood Pressure are easy to measure signs of cardiovascular state

Heart rate is a quantitative measure of heart's work. At rest a healthy heart of an average individual beats approximately 70-100 beats per minute. A conditioned heart beats much less at rest, only 40 to 50 beats per minute or even less and less at workloads compared to someone who is unconditioned. Heart rate variability is a quality measure of heart's work. The lower the resting heart rate the higher the heart rate variability, and thus the better the quality of heart's functions. You can see yourself improving from exercise if your heart rate is lower at the same workloads that you were previously doing - it is a sign that you heart is more efficient. Another good sign of heart efficiency is if your recovery heart rate is quicker after exercise (see below). If you do not have a heart rate monitor you can easily measure it at your wrist (see how).

According to the American Heart Association when it comes to resting heart rate, lower is better. It usually means your heart muscle is in better condition and doesn’t have to work as hard to maintain a steady beat. Studies have found that a higher resting heart rate is linked with lower physical fitness and higher blood pressure and body weight (see more).

Blood pressure can be easily measured at most pharmacies and professional health settings. Elevated blood pressure is very dangerous and goes unnoticed. In most cases, the damage done by high blood pressure (HBP, or hypertension) takes place over time. Left undetected (or uncontrolled), high blood pressure can lead to host of serious problems (see more).

According to the American Heart Association blood pressure numbers of less than 120/80 mm Hg are considered within the normal range. If your results fall into this category, stick with heart-healthy habits like following a balanced diet and getting regular exercise (see more).

Are You Aerobic Fit?

To Understand Aerobic Fitness you have to understand exercise intensity.

The Fitter you are the more activity, work, power, speed, and/or effort you can endure (ie the more intense you can move) and the faster your heart recovers after exercise.

Fast Recovery Heart Rate is a good thing

Heart rate should be able to drop 12 beats within first minute of exercise recovery

Recovery Heart Rate

Your Recovery Heart Rate, the speed at which your heart rate returns to normal after exercise, can indicate how fit you are as well as a physical cardiac condition and the risk of certain diseases. For instance, according to the a study in the New England Journal of Medicine people whose heart rate recovery time is long are at a higher risk of death than people with shorter recovery times regardless of physical condition or other risk factors. The first minute of recovery is the most crucial. After exercise, your heart rate experiences an abrupt drop during the first minute. In this study a heart rate decrease of 12 beats or less in the first minute as abnormal.

The study also reported that people with an abnormal decline in heart rate had a greater chance of mortality in the subsequent six years due to heart problems. Some suggest possible abnormality if less than or equal to 18 beats. Additionally the National Emergency Medicine Association suggests measuring heart rate recovery rates is one way to tell whether an exercise program is effective. People in better cardiovascular condition tend to have lower heart rates during peak exercise, and return to their resting heart rate more quickly after physical activity. Subtract your 2-minute heart rate from the heart rate you took immediately after vigorous exercise.  The faster your heart rate recovers (or slows down ) after 2 minutes the fitter and healthier your heart.

RPE chart (Rating of Perceived Exertion: see chart below) can also help you understand fitness level and improvement.  It can also help you determine the appropriate exercise intensity easily and some consider it the best way.  

The scale uses a 1 to 10 rating system. One is very light, such as walking around the house while ten would be maximal exercise. Ten would be indicative of not being able to take another step without fear of collapse. It is not recommended for anyone to work at a rate of 10 without strict supervision by a healthcare provider. Moderate intensity is the level of exercise that is most recommended, and can be determined by a rating between a 3 and a 4. When doing vigorous activity (such as HIIT) you can go higher on the RPE chart (4-10 is the HIIT Zone).

So if you were walking outside and it felt like a 4 or a 5 and then after several weeks of exercising it feels like at 3 or a 4 that is a sign that you are fitter.

If you can walk briskly at 3.7 mph at a RPE of 3 to 4 you have a fair to above average level of aerobic fitness. Most people should start off with moderate exercise (RPE 3) for 10 or more minutes. They should eventually work harder and at times when exercising at a RPE of 4 and above.